A Book About Killing Before Guns
December 13, 2008 10:46 PM   Subscribe

Book-Recommendation-Filter: I want a book that tells me all about how medieval warfare used to be waged.

I don't want to know about specific battles. I don't want to know about history. I want to know all the different ways people came up with to kill each other and knock down castles made of stone.

posted by Bobby Bittman to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
tiny bit later but you might find on war, written by prussian general cal von clausewitz, interesting.
posted by krautland at 12:38 AM on December 14, 2008

You might want to read Philippe Contamine's War in the Middle Ages, which I personally find fascinating.
posted by nasreddin at 2:12 AM on December 14, 2008

Otherwise, if you can find a copy, Lynn Montross's War Through the Ages is one of my favorite bookd--it's popular military history presented in an incredibly compelling narrative-history format Much more than just the Middle Ages, but oh, so worth it.
posted by nasreddin at 2:16 AM on December 14, 2008

Gwyn Dyer recently released a revised War, which has extensive chapters on the psychology, technology and tactics of medieval warfare. Fascinating book. There is a companion CBC documentary but I haven't see it.
posted by saucysault at 2:23 AM on December 14, 2008

Best answer: It sounds like you want to know about the technology of medieval warfare. In which case, this is the book.

If you want to know about the psychology of why medieval nobles went to war in the way they did, A Distant Mirror is a classic, and a fascinating, entertaining book at that.
posted by thread_makimaki at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2008

I've always enjoyed the History of Warfare
posted by TorontoSandy at 5:52 AM on December 14, 2008

This is hardly the most erudite suggestion, but David Macaulay's Castle has a lot of really good drawings of castle defenses.
posted by steef at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2008

Osprey Publishing : Little Books on every aspect of military and warfare from the Assyrians to the Zulu including many many covering Medieval Warfare. Most are at Amazon.com
posted by MasonDixon at 6:55 AM on December 14, 2008

I'm in the middle and loving Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, which is an impossible-to-put down, long historical novel of the 12th century, crammed with riveting detail on cathedral-building, hand-to-hand combat, mustering armies, castle invasions, grisly torture scenes, and lots of coupling!
posted by thinkpiece at 7:22 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: John Keegan's The Face of Battle is a stone-cold classic. Its section on medieval warfare is specifically about the battle of Agincourt, and I know you said you didn't want to know about specific battles, but the book uses that as a way to explain more generally how people went about killing each other. You won't be disappointed.
posted by chinston at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2008

Response by poster: chinston -- if Antony Beevor liked it, I'll like it. Thanks.

thread_makimaki, I'm all over those recommendations too.

And thankyou everyone who responded!
posted by Bobby Bittman at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2008

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